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'Pepsi Challenge' and the Birth of Niche Marketing

The cola wars between Pepsi and Coke began in the late 1930s when Pepsi started making gains in the market. Pepsi sought the advantage, in part, by appealing to the African-American dollar.

In 1940, Pepsi chief executive Walter Mack had the unprecedented idea of putting together a "negro-markets" department. Edward Boyd led the team of 12 black professionals, making Boyd one of the first black executives in corporate America. He and his group developed a marketing strategy seeking brand loyalty among African Americans. The strategy was one of the first attempts at niche marketing.

Wall Street Journal writer Stephanie Capparell looks at Pepsi's efforts to reach the African-American community in her new book, The Real Pepsi Challenge. Capparell and Boyd talk with Farai Chideya about the special-markets campaign, which featured some of the first black professional models.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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